The past few
days weeks months have been pretty shitty, and I knew that I needed to figure out a way to get some healing in. One thing I absolutely love to do is go to concerts. Not to sound cliché, but it is an incredible feeling to go to a show and get completely lost in music for a while. The ability to escape is something I need more than ever now that I’m working at an office full-time. The work itself is fine (and something I enjoy doing, even), but the co-workers…I believe Arsene_Lucifer said it best when he commented, “co-workers can be more draining than any evil anime villains.”
So when I saw that Kero Kero Bonito was going to be playing near me, it was like the Lord Herself had shone a beacon right down on me. A peppy, J-Pop inspired band playing songs about flamingos, taking breaks, and bouncing away your problems on a trampoline? That was EXACTLY the kind of escapism I was lookin’ for.
KKB are from London, and the band is fronted by Sarah Midori Perry, who sings (and occasionally raps) in both English and Japanese over synthesizer melodies and kitschy beats. She met bandmates Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled through a forum, and they’ve been making absolute bops ever since. I heard “Flamingo” through Tumblr a few years ago (if I’m not mistaken, this is their most “viral” song), and I was hooked ever since. I keep Bonito Generation (2016) and Intro Bonito (2014) in heavy rotation at work.
Their new album, Time ‘N’ Place, was released just a few weeks before the show. I hadn’t had time to listen to it fully, but I knew it had a way different feel than the other two albums. It’s more indie rock, while their earlier stuff was more Kyary Pamyu Pamyu-esque. I was honestly worried that, since the newer stuff is slightly more serious, the performance would be a little muted.
I was a fool to think this. They absolutely slayed, and kept the energy going the entire time.
Apparently, this is their first time touring together with their live band. It was really, really enjoyable to hear the live versions of songs – everything had a distinctly different feel when played live. It was especially fun to hear “Flamingo” played with a fuzzy guitar riff instead of the usual loopy synthesizer. Honestly, the entire backing band made their songs ROCK a lot more than I expected them to. Sara even threw up some devil horns in-between songs. Is it possible that Kero Kero Bonito are actually the punkest band ever?
Okay, maybe not, but I do think they’re in the running for “Most Fun Band Ever.” The band had props that they used throughout the show, including: a telephone for Sara to pick up and make a fake phone call on during “Break,” a stuffed crocodile to hold up during “Pocket Crocodile,” and of course, a stuffed flamingo for “Flamingo.”
Best of all? When they played their single “Trampoline,” a delightful little pop ditty about bouncing your troubles away, they plot twist-ed everyone by doing a faux death metal break down when it came to the “bounce/bounce/bounce/bounce” bit. The whole crowd was jumping and head-banging their way though a song that was otherwise the poppiest shit ever. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun.
I also have to give a shout-out to the opening band, Tanuki-chan. Apparently, they are considered shoegaze. Now I finally know what shoegaze sounds like! Personally, I thought they had a sort of modernized 90’s vibe to them. They reminded me of a slightly more upbeat Mazzy Star. Or maybe, like, a blend of Mazzy Star and the “We Know The Devil” soundtrack. They were a perfect opener for KKB, and their sound complemented them very well. If you find yourself really enjoying KKB’s Time ‘N’ Place, then Tanuki-chan would be the perfect band to queue up afterwards.
This was my first time going to the PhilaMoca. I’ve actually had my eye on it for a while, because they do a lot of anime movie screenings there. They even have another band called Necronomidol playing in November…something that I really want to check out, if my schedule allows.
It was a really neat venue, although it was SUPER small. Once I got inside, I was like, “oh, I understand why this show sold out within one night now.” I mean, it was like, studio apartment size. I’ve been to concerts in basements with more room! It also only had two tiny bathrooms, which was…rough at first because almost everyone had to pee once we got inside.
There was a second floor, though, which made it easier to spread out and get a good spot to watch the show from. Funnily enough, the second floor had a fully functional kitchen: stove, counter, sink, and refrigerator. Maybe it actually was a studio apartment once? The walls were all decked out in movie posters, including lots of vintage Hausu movie posters, which I appreciated because that movie OWNS.
They also had a Devilman painting. How cool is that?? I definitely want to go to more events here. Their line-up is full of events that are Extremely My Shit.
Lately, music really has been a savior to me. When I’m sitting in my windowless office, surrounded by my co-workers and their incessant personal phone calls (you can’t call your wife about your colonoscopy results on your cell outside, Dave?), the music playing through my headphones is all I’ve got. It’s like, the last string of myself that I have to hold onto when I’m there, you know? I dance in my seat a little bit to some Kero Kero Bonito (or some Wednesday Campanella), and the day goes by much faster. I have a long commute, too, so you better believe I blast music the entire way home to energize me for that final hour before I cozy up to my boyfriend and my bed.
This concert experience truly will help me power through the rest of this month. Even more than that, it inspired me to write again, and even inspired me to be myself a little more. If these guys can make goofy music and dance around with stuffed crocodiles, why can’t I be my most #authentic self, too? Artists like Kero Kero Bonito remind me that you can do things that seem weird, off-beat, or even crazy, but so long as you put yourself into it 100%, you will find people who fuck with your art. Entire venues full of people who will fuck with your art, even!
The show also reminded me that there were still plenty of cool ass people out there, beyond the stuffy Debras and Cheryls that I work with. This is the first place I’ve ever worked that could be described as conservative…not only that, but I’ve already heard quite a few casually homophobic/transphobic comments. Not a fun thing for my bi ass to hear on the regular! So, imagine my sheer joy when I looked over to see two boyfriends goofily slow-dancing together at the show without a care in the world. Meanwhile, I could hold hands and dance with my boyfriend, too, and I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I did that without having an old lady give us a dirty look as if they had never seen an interracial couple before. It all just felt…I don’t know, safe? It felt like a place where everyone could just be themselves and have fun, which means the world when you can’t be yourself for 40 hours out of the week.
I doubt that they’ll see my little blog post, but if they do: thanks, KKB. You gave this little corporate flamingo something to believe in again.